Elizabeth H. Wolgast
Feb 27, 1929 - Oct 13, 2020
Elizabeth Wolgast, died October 13 from complications following a stroke on October 1: she was 91. Elizabeth was born in Dunellen, NJ in February 1929. In 1936 her family moved to a farm outside Philadelphia run by her mother (a degreed nutritionist) while her father worked in business. She studied water-color painting as a young woman which became a life-long passion for her. She met her husband, Richard, at a drawing class at Cornell University and they married in 1949. Elizabeth went on to earn a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Washington and had a long, distinguished career teaching at the Cal State University at Hayward. She was a trailblazer in her profession being the first tenured female professor in that department. She was still the only one there when she retired. She enjoyed visiting professorships at Dartmouth College, Cambridge (England), West Point, and Abo (Finland). She authored four philosophy texts and numerous journal articles.
She had an inquiring mind and skeptical nature. While often serious, she could be spontaneous and whimsical. She was an avid reader and enjoyed debating current events as well as global issues. As a philosopher, she manifested the best features of the analytic tradition, a commitment to clarity of expression and a search for truth. Her commitment to education led her to support several students struggling with their expenses. After retirement, she volunteered in a second-grade class in a public school. It brought her a lot of joy.
Elizabeth made her spiritual home at the Berkeley Society of Friends (Quakers) for nearly 60 years where she took on a variety of roles and made profound friendships. She loved to travel with many trips to Europe along with a wildlife tour in Africa. She loved theater and had season tickets to the Berkeley Repertory Theater and the Shotgun players. Trained to play piano, she enjoyed classical music performances at Cal and attended the Bach Festival in Carmel. She was an avid tennis player and played doubles twice a week up to the last years of her life. She loved to ski as well. She loved the outdoors including visits to her mountain condo, local hikes, and trips to national parks. Richard preceded her in death in 2012 in their 63rd year of marriage. Her children will miss her intellect, creativity, and humor. She is survived by her daughter, Johanna, her son, Stephen, and granddaughter, Jillian.
She will be remembered in a remote memorial service hosted by the Berkeley Society of Friends on Saturday, February 27. Contact Steve Wolgast 408-677-7714 (text OK) for an invitation to the memorial.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25, 2021.